Regarding the Thompson ad, Jay Carney of TIME shows why the MSM are just so out of touch with so many in middle America, in part because they are so out of touch with language and values and the political theory of the Founders and, worse, of the roots of those basic tenets of American political theory. I don’t mean to pick on Carney — I don’t think he is being deliberately tendentious, but his comments are illustrative of a larger problem in the MSM — but here’s what he wrote:
The key line (in the longer version): “My friends, we must remember that our rights come from God and not from government.”
Within the context of the ad, that line is untethered — a vague assertion floating out there to be interpreted by the viewer and listener. At one level, the statement is unassailable: the Declaration states that all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,…among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But its denigration of government’s role in the matter of rights is obviously deliberate. Does Thompson, who put his legal degree to use for decades as a prosecutor, lawmaker and lobbyist, really believe that the role of government — or man, for that matter — in establishing, enforcing and protecting those rights is secondary and insignificant? I doubt it. More likely is that the line is a propitiatory offering — deliberately vague but carefully targeted — meant to reassure religious conservative voters about Thompson, …
Sigh… Oh where, oh where, to begin?
The fact is that this line from Thompson is AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN an absolutely central tenet of the American experiment. The idea is NOT that government has no role in protecting freedoms — of course it does, just as Carney says, but that it utterly beside the point, a blind alley entirely. What Thompson said had nothing to do with government’s protective role, but rather was that government neither CREATES nor GRANTS the rights we hold dear, because those rights both precede and supersede government. The rights already existed (we of faith believe they existed because they were bequeathed to us by a loving God), and continue to exist whether or not government effectively protects them. The rights are their own self-justification because they are inherent in what we as Americans believe is the intended nature of Creation; that is why they are RIGHTS rather than PRIVILEGES. Those rights exist even under despotism that tramples them. The despotism may not recognize those rights, and it may trample those rights and kill those who try to hold onto those rights, but the rights themselves exist regardless. That is precisely why the Declaration of Independence posits that the “truths” about those rights are “self evident”: because they EXIST (we believe due to God’s grace), apart from any government’s ability to pretend otherwise.
Put another way, man created government, not vice versa — and God created man with the reasoning and moral ability to discern those rights and then institute government to secure those rights against predation.
That was the point Thompson was making — but it is a point utterly lost on too many in the MSM, too many in academia, and too many in public office today.
Thompson was right. And it was not at all a “vague assertion,” but a highly specific and crucially important assertion at that.